Millennials on Wellness and Self-care

by Shameyka McCalman

Wellness isn’t a one size fits all concept.

Every day millennials know that finding a routine takes time and patience as well as trial and error. Sometimes, it can take a handful of DIY remedies before you realize that the ingredients in your pantry don’t make ideal conditioners, moisturizers or face scrubs.

Routines differ from person to person and can change and evolve based on a variety of factors -- age being one of them.

Before we touch on how younger generations of women are defining self-care, Meerabelle Dey, attorney and HuffPost Contributor, offers some advice to those transitioning from their twenties or thirties and taking the next leap into their forties. Taking your vitamins, exercising daily, and adjusting your wardrobe are just a few ways to upgrade your health and beauty routine for the better.

To better understand Gen X & Y, we interviewed two women on how their self-care routines have changed over time. Here’s a look  into how they are interpreting wellness, self-care and all of the complicated realities that fall in-between.

Nikki, 31

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Stock Photo

Describe yourself. Age? Occupation? (And anything that makes you YOU?)

Nikki: I'm a Christian creative who’s trying to pursue my dreams, African American, one of five children, and a native New Yorker.

What does self-care mean to you?

Nikki: I think right now things have been so crazy for me. Between working full-time and finding time for my connect group [weekly church small group], and trying to lose 15 pounds for my sister’s wedding, it's very difficult to have time for self-care. My connect group is about health so the stuff that we do together is awesome and has done so much for me.  It’s a cycling class -- it's about an hour and afterward, the leader gives like a mini-sermon. Then we pray in a circle. We are all reminded that God is our strength but we also need to be strong to carry the good news and be healthy. Other than that, I try to rest on Saturdays and attend church as well as lead venue design on Sundays. Overall, self-care means I try to take time to take care of myself.

Explain your mental health journey (if comfortable doing so). Ups and Downs.

Nikki: I’ve definitely  experienced anxiety and feeling overwhelmed. In my head, I’m thinking about so many things. All of the tasks that need to get done. And I think about what will happen if I don’t do them. In those moments I turn to worship because it’s the only thing that grounds me. My sister suffers from bipolar disorder and depression and that has taken a toll on my family.

If I’m feeling anxious or stressed it can take a toll on my body - which causes me to sometimes say no to different events and tasks, even upcoming venue design events.

How would you describe your skincare and makeup routine? What is it? How extensive? Does it take place in the morning, night or both?

Nikki: In the morning I wash my face with Botca, from Sephora.  I’ve been using it for 10 years now. I’ll spray my face with rose water toner from Trader Joe’s. I don’t know if it’s adding anything besides the fact that it smells like roses. And I use bio oil -- a bottle will last me a year and a half. Then I use mascara,  lipstick and I’m ready to go! I do a similar routine at night. If I don’t sleep well or take care of myself I get little bumps. I’m never connecting my skincare routine to self-care. It just feels like what I need to do. I actually paint my nails and do my toes and that feels more self-care to me. And if I have time I like to make my food myself. I know what’s in it, I’m very picky about what I eat. And I know I’ll like it for the most part.

What's some advice or tricks you’ve learned from other generations? (Examples: mom, grandma, past cultural beauty traditions)

Nikki: No, I felt like they didn’t give me any. I feel like my grandma didn’t start taking care of herself until she had a heart attack. We’re very southern. We ate southern food and then we changed our eating habits. My mom had gone up and down with her weight because of thyroid issues. She never taught me about health and never really worked out. I’ve never had any examples from others in my family. When I went off to college and came back I gained weight and tried to lose it. Not in the best way -- I ate Special K for two years. Two small bowls of Special K and then one meal a day. Special K has a lot of sugar and eventually, I learned what was right for my body. I’ve actually have introduced alternative meal options to them. Right now they’re using 2% milk but are not yet open to almond milk -- It’ll take some time.

What are some tips you can offer to others when it comes to balancing self-care, faith, and life in your 20s?

Nikki: It’s okay to say no. Right now my sister’s wedding is coming up, I just started a semester at school and I’m leading venue design. There are times where I lean on co-leads that report to me so I’m not stretched thin. I know God has put me in a place where I can keep moving forward. And have people around you who can let you know when you might need a break. Prioritize, write things down, get a calendar, be mindful, and remember why you like to do things. And God gives you these moments where he’ll provide answers to these questions.

Veronica, 26

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Stock photo

Describe yourself. Age? Occupation? (And anything that makes you YOU?)

Veronica: I'm a student, currently studying to become a doctor, and my interest in the healthcare system came from growing up and watching my mom take care of her health, exercising, she was an athlete. Because she prioritized her health my siblings and I, weren't allowed to consume sweets and processed food, including soda, at home. We’re Brazilians and the people in our culture is known for taking care of our appearance, especially women.

Creating a habit around self-care is a necessity in our community.

On that note, what does self-care mean to you?

Veronica: Self-care means self-love to me.

Every morning when I wake up and look in the mirror, or I feel lukewarm water on my face and touching my skin gently, it's a touch of love, a look of love. I'm doing something to make me look healthy and being healthy means confident, it helps me to go through my day feeling loved and cared for.

Explain your mental health journey (if comfortable doing so). Ups and Downs.

Veronica: My mental health journey has been an act of self-love. A busy life leaves you with a busy mind, and a busy mind is fertile soil for bad thoughts, frustration, depression, and anxiety to grow. I manage my time wisely and efficiently and never forget to take care of my mind through meditation. I meditate at night and in the morning. It helps me be aware of the thoughts I want to have.

How would you describe your skincare and makeup routine? What is it? How extensive? Does it take place in the morning, night or both?

Veronica: My skincare routine is something that took place more intensely when I turned 25 years old.  I finally realized I was aging and my body wasn't going to be the same each morning. This is around the time I realized my severe acne was caused by processed food. Eating lots of vegetables, cutting gluten and dairy was the key to better skin. I never forget to drink water, a lot of water, drink teas as well, green tea is good in moderation.

In the morning I wash my face with the cleanser for acne, after that, I use a toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen, which is the best way to stop anti-aging. My night time routine is more extensive, I repeat the day steps but add some acids for the acne.

When it comes to makeup I keep it light, I like the natural looking glow, just my eyebrows, eyelashes and light blush and maybe a little highlighter. And of course, a tinted lip balm.

Just to look healthy every day. I only wear a full face of makeup when I’m out for the night.

Do you think your routine uplifts you and affects your mental health in a positive way? If not what does?

Veronica: YES! I do think it uplifts me, it sets the mood for the day.  Caring for myself reminds me of how loved I am by myself, my family and God. It sets your intentions for the day, we can decide what kind of day we want to have, and the person we want to be every day to ourselves and others.

What's some advice or tricks you’ve learned from other generations? (Examples: mom, grandma, past cultural beauty traditions)

Veronica: Never forget to wash your face in the morning, at night, never go to bed without removing your make-up, and also wear SUNSCREEN. The women on my mom’s side of the family are attractive and athletic --- they work out, watch their eating habits and stay hydrated -- I try to follow their lead.

What are some tips you can offer to others when it comes to balancing self-care, faith, and life in your 20's?

Veronica: Make time for yourself … We can get easily distracted by our busy schedules, but take some time to connect with your emotions, with your mind, and body, also take care of your soul, develop a spiritual life, it will connect you with love and purpose in life.

What’s your biggest “wellness fail”? (Previous part of your wellness routine that you’ve retired and will never try again)

Veronica: When I reached my mid-twenties I started to allow myself to enjoy a little of processed food, the little became a little more, and the little more turned into my body screaming: "I CAN'T TAKE THIS ANYMORE." I started to break out a lot on my face, and I had no clue that It became too much, I mean, I was just ignoring it to keep enjoying my Haagen Dazs, pizza, and chocolate. And also my nightlife affected my skin, my hair and sleep routine … I started treating the skin but from outside it didn’t help much, so you have to start from the inside out. And changed my diet, — exercise, sleep more.

Anything else you'd like to share?

Veronica: I love LOVE, so love more, be compassionate, have a word of kindness to share with someone, compliment people genuinely, drink more water, be more conscious about who you are and what you like, you're beautiful just the way you are.

Shameyka McCalman lives in New York City and writes about fashion, art, sustainability and social commentary.

How to Move ‘Beyond the Busyness’ of Life

“Self-care is not selfish; you owe it to your future.” - Lisa Nichols

“So many people are dealing with guilt and low self-esteem. I want women to walk away knowing that they are valuable and worthy. It is okay to take care of yourself. If you do, if your mind and body are healthy, everything else will fall into place.” – Mia Bradford

Meet Mia Bradford, a change coach with Beyond the Busyness, a lifestyle transformation support group she founded in 2018. As a coach, Mia provides self-care resources, events, support, and encouragement for busy women who live life on purpose.

W+G: Why do you feel called to empower women in this way?

Mia: I have a background in counseling and I am passionate about self-care and being the best person I can be so that I can serve others in a meaningful capacity. I can only give what I have inside of me so it’s really important for all women to be replenished. We are natural nurturers and depending on what kind of culture you grew up in, you may feel obligated or guilty if you don’t do everything that everyone is asking you to do. As Christians, we should remember that even Jesus rested, got away and took time to be still. Sometimes we don’t have time for that because we are so busy doing instead of being.    

W+G: What are some of the tools that women can learn from taking your “Beyond the Busyness” course?

Mia: I provide self-care knowledge and different techniques for self-care since I don't subscribe to Western medicinal practices. I use Ayurveda practices – an ancient Indian medicine practice – and I have actually been healed from a long-term injury. I also practice aerial yoga, and prayer and meditation rooted in my Christian faith and that involves a lot of bible-reading, solitude, and silence to stay connected with the Lord. As a counselor, I am mindful of mental health and making sure that people are reflective and can tap into what’s really going on in their lives and get to the root of the problem – “why am I not practicing self-care?” or “why am I having these emotions or engaging in certain habits?”  

W+G: You mentioned an injury that you were healed from. How did you get healing?

Mia: It was a two-fold process. Research shows that about 80 percent of health issues are related to stress or some type of emotional issue. First, I had to heal emotionally so I went to therapy and for the actual injury, I was in physical therapy for years and I never had relief. I couldn’t kneel to play with my nieces and nephews and even exercising was difficult. I went to an Ayurveda practitioner here in Houston and she began helping me with the mental and the physical pain using essential oils and breathing techniques. It was pretty straight forward and there was nothing that she gave me that went against my Christian beliefs. And it really worked for me.

One thing about healing is believing and declaring in faith that you are moving toward that healing process. My dad was even a skeptic but he came around when my mom used some of the oils for his old sports injuries and he felt better.

W+G: Tell us a little more about your Summer Healing Event on June 9.

Mia: As we enter into the second half of 2018, studies show that a little more than half of the people who set goals in January have already abandoned those goals. So this is like a midyear reset where we will provide self-care tips. The average person thinks of self-care as going to the spa or getting their hair and nails done, but it is deeper than that. One way that you can take care of yourself is by taking care of your business and making sure your household is in order. The first topic is financial self-care, managing debt and our emotional connection to money. Nadine Kennedy will discuss non-toxic living and how to detoxify your home. So many people, including myself, suffer from allergies and sinus issues due to toxic products in the home so we will learn how to make natural skincare products that aren’t harmful to your health. We’ll also have speakers discussing God-fidence, which is confidence that comes from trusting in the Lord, and goal setting. The vision board session will be held at another location but for those who opt out of that, they can remain at the spa and access the full range of the spa amenities.

W+G: Following the event, how can women get connected with you and plugged into your organization?

Mia: There are so many ways to get connected. You can follow us on social media and I highly recommend joining the Facebook group. This is where the real work happens. It's a closed group, which allows people to get really personal and I also do Facebook Live sessions and 21-day challenges. The last challenge that we did in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month was “Minding Your Mindset.”  The June challenge is centered around non-toxic living. The group really allows us to be accountable to each other. Many of the women in the group are entrepreneurs or in the helping professions and they rarely have time to help themselves. This group helps them do that.

Finally, I plan to launch a Mastermind session in July and I don’t plan to take on any new coaching clients until next year so that I can focus more on the clients that I have currently. I believe that we can do so much more in community and when we love ourselves well we can love others well.

Learn more about Beyond the Busyness here

Register for the Sacred Summer Healing Event here


Renew Your Mind and Body With Elizabeth Denton

Photo: Kristen Swain 

Photo: Kristen Swain 

by Yolande Michelle

Elizabeth Denton is an integrative nutrition health coach, personal trainer, and metabolism expert. She sat down to chat with us recently about health, fitness, nutrition and how her faith has guided her to become healthier – inside and out.

Yolande: Tell us about your personal journey with health and fitness.  

Elizabeth: "My journey with health and fitness started in 2010 when I was traveling to South America. I was into eating healthy but I wasn’t doing much else. I was also eating a raw vegan diet which wasn’t really good for my body but at the time I thought this was the healthiest thing that I could be eating. So I went to South America for three months and I stayed vegan but I couldn’t eat raw there – I was eating things like rice and beans and I gained thirty pounds in three months because my body wasn’t used to metabolizing carbohydrates."

Yolande: What did you do at this point? 

Elizabeth: "I didn’t know what was happening then because I had never put on so much weight before. When I got back to the U.S., I got a personal trainer and he helped me with my diet. He told me I could remain a vegan but not a raw vegan because he couldn't ensure that I would get enough protein. He helped me establish a healthy diet and I just fell in love with working out. So I continued working out and I stayed on my vegan diet for a while. I also moved back to New York, from Las Vegas, and I couldn’t afford a trainer here and so I decided to start bodybuilding. At the same time, I was writing a health blog just for fun. The bodybuilding paired with my blog made me feel like I needed to be doing something that I was passionate about, so I quit my job in fashion and started training and went back to school for nutrition. I made money by working as a trainer."

Yolande: What was it like to work full-time doing your passion? 

Elizabeth: "Being a trainer is like an illusion career because you think that because you’re in the gym all day that you have all this free time. It’s so draining because you’re working from 5:00AM to 5:00PM sometimes and you may only five clients, and you don’t make any money, especially in the beginning when you’re trying to build up your business. I remember telling my parents that I was going to leave my salaried job to be a trainer and then go back to school to be an integrative nutrition health coach. They said, 'why would you do that? You have a good job and a salary and it’s safe.' I told them that I was happy and I wanted to do something that I was passionate about. I saw how much changing my diet helped to change my life, I want others to feel the same way. Also the freedom, especially for women to know that we have control over what we put in our bodies and that comes out in the way that we act, feel, and look. I want women to feel well. I think they are used to not feeling well and just “kind of ok” and we accept it. There are so many things that we can do to feel better, more energetic and more in control of our bodies."

Yolande: What advice would you give to people who think they can’t ever be healthy or fit?

Elizabeth: "I would say start with small achievable goals. I think that people get overwhelmed because they think that they have to completely overhaul their diet and start going to the gym everyday and they don’t have to do that. You can make really small changes to see big rewards. I usually start by telling my clients to drink more water. It seems so insignificant but the health benefits of it are just insane. And most women are severely dehydrated so when you start drinking more water you start losing weight. Our bodies need water to function and our organs need water to function. If you’re not drinking enough water your body is going to hold on to as much water as it can to make sure your organs keep functioning so you can stay alive. But when you start giving your body enough water everyday, it knows and expects that it’s going to get that much water everyday and so it starts flushing out that excess because it doesn’t have to hold onto it anymore."

Yolande: Any other recommendations?

Elizabeth: "Instead of saying ‘I’m not going to eat pizza anymore – because it stresses people out and that’s all they think about – say 'I’m going to eat more fruits and vegetables.' Actively including more healthy foods in your diet because then you’ll start to crave those and naturally cut out the bad stuff without thinking about it. Plus, I find when you put things off-limits, it becomes an obsession and then it becomes, “I’m going to eat as much of it as I can before I start my diet.” So you create this unhealthy relationship with food. Start adding in more healthy foods instead of cutting out foods that you think are bad."

Yolande: What are some of your go-to foods or products that help you stay healthy?

Elizabeth: "I just gave up coffee which is really difficult for me since I have been drinking it my whole life. I love matcha and I’ll drink a matcha latte everyday. I like avocados because they are really filling, a lot of healthy fat and you can eat them with almost anything. I eat a lot of salmon because I’ve found that my body prefers fats over carbs so I try to incorporate a lot of healthy fats into my diet. I do a lot of eggs and I really like salad greens with good dressing. I think that’s something that you don’t have to give up. If it’s going to get you to eat more vegetables, keep your salad dressing."

Yolande: So none of that was vegan. Would you say that it’s difficult to stay away from carbs and still be a vegan and be healthy?

Elizabeth: "Well I was a vegan for six years and when I was a vegan I wasn’t as concerned with weight loss or what I looked like because I hadn’t ever had a weight problem at that point. I find that most vegans actually eat a lot of carbs because they aren’t eating that much protein. So I think that if you want to be a vegan for like health or other reasons, it’s fine, you just need to be aware of how you’re balancing your meals throughout the day. I feel better eating animal protein now but I don’t eat very much. I’ll eat eggs in the morning and I’ll have fish or chicken at night, and occasionally beef. I don’t usually eat meat in the middle of the day. So you can be a healthy vegan and not overdo it on the carbs but you really have to plan out your meals, which you should be doing anyway as a vegan to make sure you are getting enough nutrients.

I also think that some of these diets work differently for men than they do for women. Our bodies are so intricate and our hormones come into play. Our hormones are so sensitive to our diet and men are different. Men metabolize caffeine and alcohol easily and women can’t. It goes through our system very slowly. Things like soy should always be in moderation for men and women. For a raw vegan diet, a lot of men can tolerate it but my digestive system was way too slow for that. So you would think that it would have been really cleansing for me but it did the opposite. I was severely constipated. We have different needs as women to help balance out our hormones and keep our blood sugar steady. Sometimes with a vegan diet, you’re trying to watch your carbohydrates so you’re not keeping your blood sugar steady.

Yolande: Tell us about your Masterclass and how we can be a part of it.

Elizabeth: "It’s a six-week web-based program that’s mostly self-study. Each week there is a new module with a video with some handouts and worksheets, including my nutrition guide. You’ll also have the opportunity to ask me questions live. It’s a self-study program for women who want some guidance on changing their diet and lifestyle. The course is aimed at teaching you how to create your own personal prescription for health. My blog is called The Glow Remedy and my thought process behind is that when someone is healthy, they get compliments like, 'your skin is glowing.' The same thing with pregnant women, brides, etc – so being healthy is just another way that you can glow. Also, what I eat may not be what you need to eat to get that glow. So at the end of the course, you’ll get to write out a diet that works for you. I just wanted to give people the power to create something for themselves."

Yolande: What advice would you give to your younger self?

Elizabeth: "It’s funny because I’ve had so many health struggles along this fitness journey but all of it has prepared me to help more people, so I am thankful for them. However, if I could go back, I would tell myself that everything is going to be okay and my body is perfect just the way it is … at any stage. My weight has fluctuated so much. I have been in this healthy range for two years now but I have been 30 pounds less than this and I have been 20 pounds more in the past five years. So my body has really been through a lot and it’s easy to look at your body and say mean things about it. But the truth is, we are created in God’s image so when we hate our bodies or hate something about our bodies, we are hating something about God. So yes, we might be able to take better care of our bodies, and we should because I think that is good stewardship. But we don’t need to hate where we are right now. We are still created in God’s image, no matter what the scale says or how our clothes fit. We can choose to honor God by making better choices to honor our bodies."

If you want to learn more about Elizabeth and sign up for her Master Class, click here:

Yolande is a writer and designer living in Brooklyn. She is also the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Wit + Grace Magazine. Follow @witandgracemag on social media to connect and join the #renewalchallenge.